Baking with a Home-Grown Sourdough Starter

I neglected my sourdough starter for such a long time that it got way too sour for my taste.  So, I have started the process of growing a new one.  It’s really very easy.  Use a clean bowl and put in it 100g whole wheat flour, 100g all purpose unbleached white flour, and 200g water.  Stir it up to make a thick batter and let it sit on the counter for a few days.  When it gets kind of puffy and full of bubbles you throw away all but about a tablespoon and then feed it with the flour mix and water again.

I baked bread with the starter yesterday.  It ferments so much faster with the warm weather that you really have to keep an eye on it.  This is what it looks like when it is ripe and ready to bake with.

More important to me in judging the ripeness of a starter is the smell.  It should smell like ripe, sweet fruit, not like stinky feet or stinky cheese.  If it smells like either one of those, throw out all but a tablespoon, feed it and start again.  Don’t let it ferment so long this time before you bake with it.

I usually just make loaves of country bread like this.

But today I am also making a special carb loaded treat: potato focaccia.  This is not for the faint of heart, or for those who are counting calories or watching carbs.  This is serious put-meat-on-your-bones bread and potatoes, together in one blood sugar inducing dose of crispy on the outside, soft on the inside goodness.  By using a mandoline to slice the potatoes you can get them as thin as a potato chip.  This is what it looks like going into the oven.

When you bake it, the potatoes on top get crispy and brown and yummy, and the ones underneath are soft and delicious.

This is really yummy with a big salad for dinner.  Try not to drink too much wine with it because you will need to have enough energy left to run, ride your bike, or at the bare minimum, walk the dogs for a significant period of time to make up for eating this.

All of these recipes and ideas come from Tartine Bread, which is one of my favorite cookbooks of all time.  Buy it, read it, STUDY it!  I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to become proficient at baking bread using a natural leaven.


One response

  1. Oh yes…. another of my Hilary favorites. Love your bread – and you make it look so effortless to pull a gorgeous, crispy round loaf out of the oven. yum.

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